Kairakuen was built relatively recently in 1841 by the local lord Tokugawa Nariaki. Unlike Japan's other two great landscape gardens, Kenrokuen and Korakuen, Kairakuen served not only for the enjoyment of the ruling lord, but was also open to the public. Kairakuen means "park to be enjoyed together".
While worth a visit throughout the year, Kairakuen is particularly popular during the plum blossom season, which usually takes place from late February through March. The garden features a forest of 3000 trees of over one hundred different plum tree varieties with white, pink and red blossoms. The Mito Plum Festival (Mito Ume Matsuri) is held annually from mid February through March (February 15 to March 29, 2020).
Besides the plum trees Kairakuen also features a bamboo grove, cedar woods and the Kobuntei, a traditional Japanese style building. Like the whole park, the Kobuntei has always been open to the public and served educational and recreational purposes. A nice view of Kairakuen and nearby Senba Lake can be enjoyed from the building's top floor.
Located next to the park stands Tokiwa Shrine. Founded in 1874, it enshrines the spirits of Tokugawa Mitsukuni and Nariaki, two prominent former local lords.
There are several bus lines that connect Mito Station with Kairakuen. Relatively frequent and convenient are the buses by Kanto Tetsudo that leave from the north exit of Mito Station and are bound for Kairakuen bus stop (15 minutes, 250 yen one way, covered by the 1-day bus pass, every 15 minutes).
Alternatively, Kairakuen can be reached from Mito Station in a pleasant 30 minute walk along Senba Lake.
Note that during the peak of the plum festival, some trains on the JR Joban Line stop at the temporarily served Kairakuen Station, which stands just next to the garden.
Kairakuen Main Garden
7:00 to 18:00 (October to mid February)